This is the eighth category of the first annual HOWIE Awards – celebrating the very best in wrestling in 2020. Read our writers picks and you, dear reader, can vote on an overall winner in our poll at the end of this story.
For today’s award we have asked our team to create a shortlist for the PPV or special event of the year.
Over the rest of December we will be presenting our staff writers choices for ten different awards. At the same time we will offer you, our readers, the chance to vote on your pick from our shortlist. As well as that, why don’t you offer your alternatives via Twitter? Join the conversation by tagging us on @HO_Wrestling and using the hashtag #HOWIES20.
You can see the already announced categories to review and vote HERE. We will announce the overall reader voted winners on New Years Day.
Paul Benson, Hooked On Wrestling Tribal Chief
Shortlist Pick: NXT Halloween Havoc
I’m cheating a bit here. 2020 was the year in which the lines between PPVs and Free TV were blurred like never before. Due to the pandemic putting an end to big events in their usual form, companies had to get super creative this year to give people a reason to get excited for those events.
Out of all the approaches, I liked NXT’s the best. Taking a leaf out of AEW’s book by theming tentpole editions of their weekly show, they leaned heavily into retro brands to create something unique and fun.
Halloween Havoc was by far the best example of this. They went all in on the Halloween theme to a wonderfully kitsch degree, even bringing back ‘Spin The Wheel, Make The Deal’ with tongue firmly in cheek.
The show also featured two fantastic matches in Gargano/Priest and Shirai/LeRae as well as the Pete Dunne heel turn. Sensational stuff and the most fun I’ve had watching wrestling in years.
Cameron Bennett, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist: AEW Revolution
I mean, come on, come on…What else was it going to be?
Top to bottom, bell to bell, pretty much every match was just lovely lovely wrestling and the tag match between the Young Bucks and Omega/Hangman is one that’ll be spoken about for years to come.
Chris Napier, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist: NJPW Summer Struggle
OK, so it wasn’t the best card of the year (which was probably Wrestle Kingdom, Night One) with only the final four matches really at NJPW standard (although Suzuki vs. Shingo was a proper MOTY candidate) but just seeing pro wrestling in front of a crowd for the first time in five months and Naito’s big pyro celebration just felt so good.
Chris Hatch, Hooked On Wrestling Editor
Shortlist AEW Double Or Nothing
Taking the circus analogy, this show had a bit of everything which made watching the sun come up before it had concluded entirely worth it. A strong undercard was highlighted by the debut of Brian Cage, who has become a household name on their roster since. The night built and built, and gave three absolutely top-notch headline matches including the much talked about Stadium Stampede match. Every match had some meaning, and that made it the total package.
Liam Happe, Hooked On Wrestling Features Editor
Shortlist Pick: AEW Revolution
A tag team corker between the Young Bucks and Page/Omega, Cody and MJF’s heated grudge match, a stellar main event with a pair of brilliant ringwalks and a big title change, plus Dustin Rhodes making history with his second appearance on a February 29 wrestling PPV event.
I flirted with the idea of giving WWE’s Money In The Bank show the nod here for managing to really adapt to the pandemic and offer something completely different, but thanks to the benefit of normality and plenty of quality, my pick goes to Jacksonville on this one.
Ash Rose, Editor, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: WWE Royal Rumble
Booking the Royal Rumble fascinates me and there hasn’t been many better booked Rumble matches than what we saw in 2020. It was almost told in chapters and included the dominance of Brock, the emotional return of Edge (no, you’re crying) and of course, seeing Drew McIntyre climb to the top of the mountain. An almost perfect Rumble that also boasted a decent undercard too, with Bryan and Wyatt’s underrated strap match being another highlight.
James Dee, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: NXT vs NXT UK: World’s Collide
Call me a great big hipster if you want but my favourite PPV of the year was NXT vs. NXT UK Worlds Collide.
There was so much to love here, the Fatal 4-Way for the Cruiserweight Championship which was unexpectedly won by Devlin who brought it back to NXT:UK which had the knock-on effect of the Cruiserweight tournament later on in the year.
Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm might not have hit the heights of their original feud but put in good work anyway, DIY vs. Moustache Mountain was just as excellent as you would think it would be and then there’s the main event. A 4v4 Single Fall Eight-Man Tag Match IMPERIUM vs. The Undisputed Era, Everything is going very well in this exhibition match when something horrifying happens. Alexander Wolfe takes an errant kick to the head, he’s legit out cold, Ref throws the X, he has to be taken out of the match and suddenly IMPERIUM are on the wrong side of a 4 on 3 disadvantage and WALTER, a man who makes Brock Lesnar look affable and easy-going by comparison, is the babyface and it’s amazing.
I don’t want to sell Aichner and Barthel short either; they put in some great work, but WALTER was the star here. Honestly, there were probably better, more significant PPV’s this year, and definitely ones that advance characters and stories more but this was my favourite.
Justin Czerwonka, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom, Night 1
Yes, Wrestle Kingdom Night 1 did take place in 2020. It feels like a completely different decade. But it happened and it had three match of the year candidates on it.
The final three matches of Hiromu Takahashi vs Will Ospreay, Jay White vs Tetsuya Naito and Kazuchika Okada vs Kota Ibushi were all either five stars or very close to it.
The undercard had a really good Jon Moxley vs Lance Archer match and it was fun seeing all the legends of Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger’s career back in a ten mag tag.
A fun night of wrestling I was glad I woke up at 3AM for.
Gary Tait, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: WWE WrestleMania
It must be WrestleMania. Two nights instead of one and it made WWE think outside of the box in regards to the cinematic matches. It was also a great break from what was at the time a barrage of COVID-19 news and having Mania go ahead just made me feel better about what was going on with the world.
Lewis Brown, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: WWE Royal Rumble
It’s got to be the Royal Rumble. The last big event that had fans in attendance, it feels now like years ago that we witnessed Edge make his return, and more importantly, Drew McIntyre winning the big one to cash his ticket to the main event of WrestleMania. I was there in Glasgow at the Hooked On Wrestling Viewing Party and, excuse the cliché, but it was ELECTRIC! I don’t see any other PPV topping this one personally, as it reminds me how great it is to have fans in attendance.
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